Update: $7M damage in barn fire

Ginseng processing facility wiped out near Teeterville

Damage is estimated at $7 million after fire wiped out a major ginseng processing operation on Windham Road 7 Wednesday. MONTE SONNENBERG / Simcoe Reformer

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TEETERVILLE – Fire caused major damage to a large ginseng operation this week.

Around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, fire broke out in a large processing barn at 1227 Windham Road 7. The fire occurred about a mile west of the Windham East Quarter Line.

Lost were a vast assortment of equipment and an entire year’s harvest. The Norfolk County Fire Department pegs the damage at nearly $7 million.

“We lost everything,” a partner in the business who asked not to be named said. “Tractors, sprayers, the washing lines, the grading lines, the diggers, a cooler, the apple boxes – everything.”

No injuries were reported. The partner added that the facility and its contents are insured.

The partner said the operation will have to be rebuilt given the acres of ginseng that remain in the ground. It takes about four years for a crop to mature. As such, producers work with staggered plantings at various stages of maturity.

“It started at the back of the building where all the panel boxes are, the bathrooms, the heaters,” the partner said. “It was a pretty big barn.”

In social media reports, Norfolk fire officials commented that a large, continuous supply of water was needed to bring the fire under control and prevent it from spreading.

With help from tanker trucks from Brant County and Haldimand County, county officials say they were able to fight the fire without interruption.

“Between our tankers and the four tankers from our neighbouring departments, we were able to deliver more than enough water to supply the aerial truck, large diameter ground monitor, and the numerous hand lines being used to bring the fire under control,” Michael Atkins, spokesperson for the Norfolk County Fire Department, said in a report.

“Norfolk had firefighters and resources from eight of 11 stations on scene.”

The fire was fought in sub-zero conditions. Norfolk County sanders attended the scene to ensure emergency vehicles had good traction on roads in the immediate area.

The situation was declared under control sometime after midnight. Though the barn and its contents were lost, firefighters kept the flames from spreading to a barn 25 feet away and a house 50 feet away.

Fire officials do not consider the fire suspicious. An insurance adjuster was on site Thursday afternoon. Because the wreckage was smouldering in places, fire trucks and firefighters remained on site in case they were needed.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com

Damage was estimated at about $7 million in a barn fire at a ginseng operation on Windham Road 7 on Wednesday night. Norfolk County Fire Department / Contributed photo

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